Italian Billionaire's Unwanted Quadruplets(3)

By: Sophia Lynn

As it was, she held the kiss a moment longer than she strictly needed to, then she threw herself back, breaking his grasp. Pearl turned her head away, coming to sit on the edge of the pool, one hand covering her face.

"What's the matter, did I hurt you?"

Through her rage, she could hear the genuine concern in the man's voice as he came around the rock, getting closer to her. A part of her wanted to let him go easily, but god, she got so tired of men who thought they could take liberties just because she was in a goddamn water show. He didn't climb up on the rock, which at least showed that he had learned from what had happened to Carson, but he was stepping close on the deck.

Pearl hitched her shoulders a little as if she were crying, and the man's voice grew sharper with worry.

"I'm sorry, I did not mean anything to harm you..."

On the last word, he was within range, and Pearl half-rolled towards him while kicking her legs up hard. Her tail, which extended a good two feet beyond her toes, flipped up a decent bucketful of water and dumped it on the man's head.

The look of utter shock on his face made her laugh, and if the laughter from the bleachers was any indication, his friends agreed with her.

" weren't..."

Pearl pointed towards one of the fiberglass signs nearby that had been molded to look like battered wood. It proclaimed in Gothic letters, "Don't Trust the Mermaids," and she smirked at him.

"Does that tell you what kind of mermaid I am?" she called, scooting back in case he got any ideas of making a grab for her.

For a moment, she wondered if she had pushed her luck too far that day, but then he grinned. Despite herself, she felt her breath leave her body in a rush. It wasn't that he was handsome, though he was certainly that. There was something about this man and the pure joy he had on his face while he was sopping wet that made her feel almost dizzy.

"Truly, I'm well answered, lovely mermaid," he said, sketching a bow. "I'll keep my distance in the future."

It was on the tip of her tongue to reply that he should have known better in the first place, but then a thin cry caught her ear. She was used to children shrieking through the water show, but there was something wrong about this one.

It was coming from the wrong direction.

Her stomach in her throat, she turned towards the open center of the swimming pool. All around the edge were girls in mermaid tails socializing with the resort patrons, getting their pictures taken, so none of them saw the tiny girl sitting on a pool noodle floating close to the center of the pool.

That's one of the flotation noodles from the residential area of the resort, she thought automatically, and then, That little girl's far too young to be out there.

She heard a startled voice next to her, but she didn't hesitate before sliding off the rock. She was a strong swimmer, and she maintained a steady pace in the water. The closer she got, the more she could see that the little girl was clinging to the noodle for dear life, and at the same time, she looked terrified.

It's going to be okay, sweetie, Pearl thought desperately. Just hang on, hang on, and I'll be right there...

Just as she thought that, however, the girl slipped off of the noodle with a kitten-like cry, and Pearl had to forget everything about careful or steady. She dove under the water, finding the girl's dark shape without a moment of hesitation. It seemed to take hours, but in all likelihood it was less than a few seconds before she had the little girl wrapped in her arms, dragging her back to the surface.

The girl was heavier than she’d thought, however, still fully clothed, and that was before she started struggling in a hard panic.

Pearl's stomach clenched. She could still remember her lifeguard instructor’s words. If someone struggled too much, you couldn't save them. An inert body was safe, but a struggling one could result in two deaths instead of one. The little girl was struggling so frantically that Pearl nearly lost her grip.

Nononono, I will not let you go!

At that moment, a dark shape moved in Pearl's peripheral vision, and she saw two strong arms come out to reach around the little girl.

What the hell?

Chapter Two

It took Pearl a few moments to recognize the man who was helping her tug the little girl to the surface, and even then, she wasn't sure she believed her eyes. It was the man from before, the one she had splashed, and he gave her a grin when they broke the surface.

"I figured I was already wet," he said, and then they both tugged the little girl back to the side of the pool. She was crying and still struggling weakly, but that was far better than being limp and still.

It seemed to take forever to get back to the edge of the pool, and Pearl knew it would have been far more difficult without the man's help. There was a crowd gathering at the edge of the pool, one of the certified lifeguards among them, and Pearl gratefully handed the little girl over to her.